An 18-wheel tractor-trailer jumped a curb and charged up the grassy approach to the Washington Monument, plowing through a fence and running over some benches before crashing into the monument shortly before it was to open yesterday morning, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police reported. There were no injuries.
Bomb experts from the Park Police and the Department of Defense who examined the truck found no explosives, according to Park Police Maj. Richard Cusick.
The driver of the truck, Garrow E. Brigham, 36, of 9130 Cherry La., Laurel, was charged with destruction of government property and reckless driving, Cusick said. He said Brigham was taken to St. Elizabeths Hospital for psychiatric evaluation after the crash, which left "some scrapes and scratches" at the base of the monument but did not cause significant damage.
He said the truck caused about $3,500 damage to benches, trash containers and a snow fence near the monument, which was closed for about three hours after the crash.
Cusick said the incident occurred at 8:55 a.m., five minutes before the monument was scheduled to open, when a W. Grace Co. tractor-trailer traveling east on Constitution Avenue NW veered off the road at 17th Street, jumped a curb at the northwest corner of the monument grounds and headed for the 555-foot obelisk.
Witnesses said the truck was traveling about 50 mph as it started the climb to the structure, which had "only a few" tourists nearby, Cusick said. He said the truck was traveling at 5 to 10 mph at the time of impact and left a streak of green paint on the base of the monument. The truck received minor damage.
Cusick said that Brigham had just dropped off a load of insulation in Virginia.
Brigham appeared to be suffering from "personal and emotional problems," Cusick said, and was under a prescribed medication.